Coming to the decision that a loved one may need assisted living isn’t easy. It’s an emotional issue that involves a change in lifestyle for both the senior citizen moving in and his or her family. While the decision will never be without difficulty, there are some objective tests that can help take the guesswork out of it, and give you the peace of mind that you’re doing what’s necessary.

Can Your Loved One Perform the Activities of Daily Living?

Healthcare providers, insurance companies, and the federal government have defined six activities which define the basic tasks required to live daily life. If a person cannot perform two (2) of these without assistance, he or she has met the standard to engage services or draw related benefits. The first step to evaluate if someone needs help is to review these activities and her or his ability to perform them.

The six activities of daily living are:

  1. Eating
  2. Bathing
  3. Dressing
  4. Toileting (the ability to access and use the toilet as well as conduct related hygiene)
  5. Transferring (the ability to get into and out of a seat or bed)
  6. Maintaining continence

If the person you’re considering for assistance is having difficulty meeting two of these, then it may be time to consider some form of assistance. In cases even partial degradation in one area may necessitate help.

Assistance Doesn’t Have to Mean a Facility

While an assisted living home will provide the most comprehensive care and ensure the highest level of safety, those benefits have to be weighed against your loved one’s personal situation. Is he or she willing to make a move? Will a period of adjustment time help socialize the change? Is the level of assistance needed still pretty low? If so, you can arrange in-home care which will allow the senior a greater degree of autonomy until assisted living is required. And just like a facility, home health providers are often covered under most long-term care insurance policies, but the amount of coverage may vary. If you have long-term care insurance, it’s a good idea to verify the coverage amounts.

Sometimes the Situation Changes Quickly

While many people slowly decline and their needs gradually require full-time residential care, others suffer a sudden change that immediately necessitates it. A friend of ours tells us that his father’s situation declined so fast over the course of a weekend, he had to be admitted first to the hospital and then to assisted living. “My Dad started falling down several times a day, and once he pulled my Mom down as she was trying to help him. At that point we knew, sadly, that he couldn’t live at home any longer. We later found out that he had been suffering from vascular dementia and the changes were probably building over time…but it came to a head that weekend in August 2013,” he tells us.

Professionals Can Assess the Situation

If you think that you have a loved one may need care but aren’t sure, reach out to a reputable assisted care facility or home provider. They can perform a series of tests and ask the right questions to help determine your loved one’s status.

Separate the Emotions

While the decision is never easy, addressing it in a process-oriented manner with professional guidance can take some of the emotions out of the situation and help you make the right decision. Aging and the issues that come with it are difficult for the senior and his or her family and friends, but there are many resources that can help. Remember that the peace of mind that comes with knowing your loved one is cared for and safe will give you the clarity you need to make good healthcare decisions for them and live your own life effectively. Elder care situations affect more than the senior, and everyone’s needs must be balanced.

If you have any questions or would like to understand assisted living further, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here to help!